Basil is my all-time favorite herb and I am so excited it is in season. There is nothing like fresh basil!
There are several species of basil, but the most common is sweet basil. It is often used for caprese salad, pesto, tomato sauces, and to liven up Italian dishes.
To harvest fresh basil, clip the stem where it extends from a two-leaf joint. A new stem and leaf will grow from this point. Continuing to clip and use the basil while it is young and tender keeps the leaves and stems from maturing and forming buds and blooms. If the plant flowers, the basil will have a slightly bitter taste so try to keep basil plants trimmed!
If you harvest more than you can use, you can place the basil in a jar of water and store it on the counter for a few days. You can also freeze basil! To prevent the basil from wilting and turning brown, blanch the basil first. Chill and pat the basil dry and put the leaves in a blender or food processor and puree, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a smooth paste. Freeze the basil in ice cube trays for easy use! You can also make batches of pesto to freeze.
If you are looking for ways to use up your summer basil, here are a few of my favorite basil recipes!